[Editor’s note: During the press conference, Newburgh Heights Mayor Gigi Traore spoke out against impending layoffs previously proposed by council.]

NEWBURGH HEIGHTS, Ohio (WJW) — Newburgh Heights village workers could soon be laid off.

Mayor Gigi Traore spoke on the proposed cuts — which she called “catastrophic layoffs” — during a Thursday morning media briefing at the village hall along Harvard Avenue.

However, Michelle Graora, village council’s president pro tempore, said Mayor Traore has “politicized” the potential layoffs and mischaracterized the situation.

Traore earlier Thursday said the layoffs would include six people, including two firefighters, a police officer and a service department employee. The cuts would also close the village’s Housing & Building Department, she said.

The proposal would mean no leaf removal in fall and no snow removal in winter, Mayor Traore said.

Traore also said the proposal would save the village about $70,000 in total, which wouldn’t even have a meaningful impact on the village’s finances, she said.

The layoffs were approved by members of the village council’s finance committee, whom she accused of “putting politics before our people.”

Graora released a statement later Thursday to FOX 8 News which reads:

It is unfortunate that Mayor Traore has tried to politicize this issue of potential layoffs. The reality is that there will be a $2 million shortfall in this year’s budget.

The village council has been taking steps all year to mitigate the impact of this revenue shortfall.

Mayor Traore has mischaracterized this situation.

First and foremost, no vote has been taken, no policies enacted, no legislation approved.

Secondly, no police or fire personnel are slated for layoffs at this time.

Third, all village operations will continue to be performed including leaf pickup and snow removal.

And lastly and most important, for months village council has asked the Mayor to join council in submitting a grant to county council for safety forces salaries. The Mayor has refused and insists on using these [American Rescue Plan Act] funds for a dog park. This lack of leadership and refusal to use ARPA monies available to our community for salaries has left the council no choice but to implement these difficult and painful choices. If the mayor would join council in submitting the ARPA grant request to county council for village salaries, I am certain that village council would consider tabling these proposed layoffs.

Newburgh Heights Village Council President Pro Tempore Michelle Graora

The legislation will be put up for emergency approval at the council’s Tuesday, Sept. 19 meeting, Mayor Traore said. If approved, the layoffs would take effect immediately.